Friday, May 15, 2009

Enlighten Up! (Rhoades0

“Enlighten Up!” Is Yoga Lesson

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My son used to work in Fairfield, Iowa, where Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the onetime Beatles guru, established his worldwide headquarters on a former college campus. The town is divided between its regular inhabitants and the Ru’s (as the followers of the guru are called). Basic to this particular brand of transcendental meditation is the concept of yoga.

Yoga is a physical and mental discipline traditionally associated with meditative practices of Hindus and Buddhists. The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, from “to control” to “to unite.”

According to “Enlighten Up!” – the new documentary that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema – over 18-million Americans practice yoga. However, it’s a Baskin-Robbins variety that includes Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga.

Choose your flavor.

Filmmaker Kate Churchill became a devotee to yoga, finding its exercises and meditations transforming. Accepting the idea that the practice of yoga can transform anybody, she decided to make a documentary about it. Recruiting a young skeptic named Nick Rosen, she and her crew followed the 29-year-old New Yorker around the world to meet with – and learn from – such notable practitioners as B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Norman Allen, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Gurmukh, Dharma Mitra, Cyndi Lee, Alan Finger, Rodney Yee, Beryl Bender Birch, Shyamdas, Diamond Dallas Page, and many others.

Among them Kate and Nick found “celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks, and world-renowned gurus.”

Along the way they also discovered that yoga is a multi-billion business.

Kate’s plans go awry as Nick’s expected conversion meets some resistance. But that’s the nature of a documentary, recording events rather than following a script.

“When I’m twisting myself into a pretzel, I’m thinking what the hell’s the connection between this and enlightenment – nothing!” Nick concludes at one point.

Kate counters, “Do you think there’s still room there or have you written it off?”
“I want facts which I can testify for my own satisfaction, that’s what I’m looking for,” says Nick.
He adds, “This isn’t for me a religious quest. I think what would really matter is if it gave me something else.”

“Most people are misguided about yoga,” says one guru in the film.

As such, “Enlighten Up!” is a fascinating journey – showing the positive results of this healthful discipline while facing up to some of the downsides.

With several yoga studios here in Key West – and numerous friends who practice one or another forms of yoga – this should be a popular and enlightening film.
[from Solares Hill]

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